What music courses/subjects/units could we offer to attract all students?

In class, we talked about how the first reading pointed out that only around 12% of students participate in performance-based music programs. Matt raised the question, “What class could we offer that would appeal to all students?”

Please comment. Note: I’m not interested in a course that would merely be popular (e.g. “Let’s all watch MTV”); rather, this should be a class that students would love to take and be something that could be educationally valid.

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21 Comments on “What music courses/subjects/units could we offer to attract all students?”

  1. Jacob Gross Says:

    Music and the Internet: Creating, Sharing, and Critical Observation

  2. Erica C Says:

    There are a variety of different courses we could offer to get students more involved with music whether it is through history or new age technology. For the student interested in history, there could be a music history course where students can study the rise of the different genres of music and famous composers along the way. There could be another course where students can listen to their favorite kind of music, or artist, and look for things in their music that stand out to essentially analyze the type of music they listen to everyday. Another course would be using this new age technology to create music on computers.
    A problem that I saw in high school was that the kids that who are involved in band, orchestra, and chorus have been playing their instrument or singing since middle school or elementary school. I would bet that there are high school students that regret not learning how to play an instrument and since all the music classes are for those who have played since they were younger, they automatically fall behind. A good idea for a class would be a beginning strings class, or a beginning band, or beginning chorus. It would not be an intense class; it would just teach the students who never had the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, the chance.

  3. lvalade2 Says:

    Introduction to Music Theory and Technology
    Music Technology and Media Studies (compose music to accompany movies, visual art, stories, create ringtones, etc.)
    Music Technology and Composition (create your own music for a band, experiment with instrumentation and melodies)
    Music Technology and the Web (creating music for websites, music to accompany YouTube videos, etc.)

  4. mus243 Matt Says:

    Film Scores for a Changing World: examining video game scores and soundtracks

    I would love a class where students examined and better understood the music behind video games, from old 8-bit sound to the modern orchestra plus MIDI arrangements and rock soundtracks. In fact, you could also have a course that examines the so-called “sound design” aspect from a technological and aesthetic standpoint (most people don’t understand the complexity of the sound environment in a modern video game). We will talk a little bit about this, the class such as this could be musically educational, educational in a media studies sense, and also offer students opportunities to compose and create. Maybe even play video games… 🙂

  5. meghann_c Says:

    Musical Events: a course where several different skills can be learned and incorporated, through a massive group project of creating and organising some kind of concert. It may be a little complicated to work…but you could have some students doing the performing, some composing the music to be performed, choosing and making decisions on what kind of styles and genres should be included, others sorting out the venue, advertising, how the whole show is put together, lighting, sound, technical equipment – basically assigning any job you can think of that would need doing. That way you could involve those who enjoy performing and composing or other ‘musical’ aspects, and those who are talented in other areas but have an interest in music and can therefore still be involved, as without all these other areas it would be impossible to actually put on a successful show, so they can be essentially just as important as the performers.

  6. Leslie Goldberg Says:

    Mixing and Producing Music: Know What You’re Listening To

    This class would talk about popular music that relies heavily on mixing, such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album or most rap/hip-hop music. It would utilize various computer technologies, as well as talk about some on stage mixing technologies, like what KT Tunstall uses. As a final project, students would have to take a song, either one already made or one they compose themselves, and re-mix it a la the Beatles’ Love album.

  7. Matt O Says:

    iListen: an analytical and creative study of your musical environment.

    This class would deal with formal and theoretical elements of music in a fairly superficial fashion. It would discuss the role of music and its impact on our daily lives. It would also allow students to do some hands on creative experimenting.

  8. S_Murray Says:

    I’m kinda going off of what Matt came up with above…

    iRap: Producing your own record for beginners.

    I mean, who doesn’t want to record their own rap album? Now, instead of just SAYING you’ve got an album coming out in a year from now, you can say it and actually mean it!!!

  9. kellyfitz Says:

    history of rock ‘n roll

    everyone enjoys hearing all about their favorite stars and how they shaped pop culture. This course could be interlaced with musical ideas and motives from the beginning era of rock ‘n roll. the class would also examine different units of rock such as the 60’s and 70’s and moving into metal.

    the school could also offer
    fitting pictures and music together

    This course would examine film and television scores and analyze what makes particular classic scenes in cinema and television so memorable through the music such as the shower scene from Psycho and the riverside scene from On The Waterfront. This class would be educational for learning about different motives that can be used to inspire a particular feeling, and enjoyable for the masses because it incorporates popular culture.

  10. pianostars10487 Says:

    I always wished that there was some kind of modern music appreciate class. Like, instead of starting with, “In the beginning, there were Gregorian chants…” maybe skip over some of that stuff… and start with blues and jazz. That way the semester would move from blues/jazz to rock and eventually into current contemporary music. Maybe a lot of students would be interested in that because it would actually apply to music they listen to now. (for musicians and non-musicians)

  11. mus243 Matt Says:

    Here’s a few comments on some of the comments…

    Matt O: Don’t sell yourself short by describing your course as treating elements, “in a fairly superficial fashion”.

    S_Murray: I think that a course where students create their own music, whether rap or other genres, has lots of potential. If you want to focus on just rap, you could also include history, criticism, critical studies, etc.

    pianostars: I agree with you that starting with the earliest possible history and progressing chronologically often doesn’t work well. Progressive educators talk about starting where the student is presently, then moving to areas more distant from their experiences. This is often the case in our own experience (I got interested in playing electric bass by listening to the trashy Euro pop of the 1980s, only later discovering Motown’s bassist James Jamerson). Most of us would agree that “it’s all connected”, but starting where the student has opinions and knowledge allows for the quest began in a more interactive fashion.

  12. Josh Sove Says:

    “Contemporary Music to the Present”

    This class would trace the origins of modern contemporary music from about the mid-19th century onward. Most genres would be covered including rock, rap, jazz, country, pop, and others.

  13. CarmC Says:

    I think that there should be a class where kids learn how to produce there own or other peoples music using technology. I have a lot of friends who are interested in studio work, and recording. this would be a fun class for the student who is interested in producing music and for all of those kids who have local bands that are not affiliated with the school, they just play in someones basement or garage. learning studio production is important in this day and age since the corporate music world is so large. I think that in high school kids should also have the opportunity to learn music business, and science. These are all classes I wish I could have taken in high school.

  14. geigegirl Says:

    I like Erica’s idea of teaching classes for beginning students. I wonder if it would be interesting to create a type of “methods class” in high school where students could try out a variety of instruments over the year and learn a little about each. I find it is often times more enjoyable to listen to a piece when I know about the instrument which is performing. Being familiar with the instruments might make music more interesting to a student. Perhaps exploring instruments of other cultures would be an interesting part of this course as well.

  15. dmig2000 Says:

    I’m not sure what I would call the class, but I think a class that looked at the development of rock/pop music over the past 50 years or so would get a lot of attention from students. A lot could be learned from the class: comparing and contrasting styles, instrumentation, lyrics, chord progression and how all of these things have changed over the years. Along the way or even as a final project the students could write their own song or even just a single line for an instrument that incorporates the different styles of the music that was looked at throughout the semester. It sounds tough but if students were interested they could do it.

  16. reclark3 Says:

    Maybe a class which shows music’s place in people’s lives who are not musicians for a living, showing its pyschological and emotional effect. Everyone hears some type of music at least once a day yet they don’t know that is effects them, whether they realize it or not. This would be interesting to a musician and a nonmusician. The musician is exposed to music more than anyone else and it would show its effect. The nonmusician would not feel like they need previous knowledge for the course and want to take it as well.

  17. vabaker2 Says:

    I think that a sequence level of classes to accomplish a music based curriculum would be very appealing. The first level would be a basic introduction to music theory and technolgg

  18. vabaker2 Says:


    …music theory and graphic design. This would expand to other interests in the arts. This class would be basic and teach the basics of theory and have a few computer programs that apply to one’s interest. Example something like Mac gamut for music and other art programs for the artist/etc. The second semester if one wanted to continue could be an advancement of the previous course with more theory and tech. And the final semester would be utilizing the programs for everyday life. Making this final step more of a open study idea where composition and graphic design could occur. Though the sequence could take a lot of time it would really be useful to any student interested in the technological side of the interest in music and art.

  19. jlaw2 Says:

    I think History of Rock and Roll would be a class that would attract alot of students, also a class about lighting effects for concerts Light Design or something of that ilk

  20. Jessica C Says:

    I read somewhere that a teacher in a middle school renamed her general music class and called it “Beethoven to Bach, Country to Rock.” I feel like a name change like this one would attract a little bit more attention from students. I also believe that using internet incorporated into a music class would inspire students to join a music class.

  21. aldog10 Says:

    Music Tech and its effects, A class that teaches a student what they can do with music technology. Most students do not even know what is available so this class will allow them to experience the programs first hand.

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